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Is Cabbage Good or Bad for Gerd (Acid Reflux)?

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You’ve probably read everywhere that, as an acid reflux sufferer, you should be avoiding carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, fatty foods, and spicy foods, as well as a host of other tasty morsels. But what about a stalwart of the healthy food brigade – the humble cabbage?

Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a conundrum.

Cabbage is one of the most commonly consumed green vegetables (though, of course, you can get white and red cabbage) together with green beans, that some people believe may be beneficial for gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD), while others claim that it can exacerbate the condition.

Cabbage may be beneficial for acid reflux sufferers due to its anti-inflammatory properties and potential to neutralize stomach acid. However, it’s a high FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) food. These are small carbs that many people cannot digest) content and sulfur compounds may trigger symptoms in some individuals, so it is best to start with small amounts as a part of an acid reflux diet.

Cabbage is generally considered to be good for acid reflux, as it is a low-acidic food that can help to soothe the digestive system.

Cabbage is also high in fiber, which can help absorb excess stomach acid and promote regular bowel movements, reducing the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms.

However, it is important to note that some people with GERD may find that cabbage triggers their symptoms. This can vary from person to person and may depend on factors such as the individual’s digestive health and the specific type of cabbage consumed (e.g. raw versus cooked).

I will examine the potential benefits and drawbacks of cabbage for GERD sufferers in this post.

What Is GERD?

First, just in case you’ve not come across the term “GERD” or “GORD”, here’s a quick explanation:

Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) (or GORD – gastro-oesophageal reflux disease – in the UK) is a health condition that results from the backflow of stomach acids and other digestive juices through the valve at the top of the stomach (the esophageal sphincter) into the esophagus, resulting in chronic acid reflux.

This can cause heartburn symptoms, chest pain, and regurgitation. People with GERD may also experience difficulty swallowing and a feeling of food being stuck in their throats.

GERD is typically treated with lifestyle changes, antacids, and other medications. If you suffer these symptoms regularly, consult your healthcare provider, as GERD and heartburn can turn nasty if left untreated.

Cabbage and its Nutritional Value

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family. It comes in different varieties, such as green cabbage, red, and savoy cabbage.

The cabbage family is a low-calorie food and is rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, and fiber. It also contains antioxidants and phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Shredded cabbage is used to make Sauerkraut, a fermented food that is rich in probiotics, which are good for gut health, and may help control GERD,

What Are The Potential Benefits of Cabbage for GERD Sufferers?

Cabbage has several potential benefits for people with GERD.

1. First, it is low in acidity, so it will not irritate the lining of the esophagus as other, more acidic foods may. Further information on adopting a low-acid diet to control GERD and in particular Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) can be found here.

2. Additionally, cabbage contains antioxidants, which may help to reduce inflammation in the stomach and esophagus, reducing symptoms of GERD.

Cabbage contains natural compounds called sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that may help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.

A study published in the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences found that cabbage juice helped to reduce inflammation in the stomach lining of rats with ulcers.

3. There is a lot of fiber in cabbage, which can help absorb excess stomach acid and promote regular bowel movements, reducing the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms. Generally, fiber-rich foods have been shown to reduce the incidence of acid reflux.

4. Cabbage can be fermented to make sauerkraut, which is rich in probiotics, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

One study investigated the effects of fermented concentrated cabbage juice on the symptoms of acid reflux in humans. The study involved 14 healthy volunteers who were given fermented cabbage juice or a placebo for two weeks.

The results showed that the volunteers who received fermented cabbage juice had a significant reduction in the symptoms of acid reflux compared to those who received the placebo. However, the study had a small sample size.

It is thought that probiotics are beneficial in treating GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) because they help to restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This helps to reduce inflammation which can cause GERD symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach discomfort.

Probiotics can also improve digestion, and reduce the risk of developing H. pylori infection, a known cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Probiotics help to reduce Candida in the bowel, reducing bloating and pressure on the valve between the stomach and esophagus. For more on this, read this article, here.

Sauerkraut is very easy to make it home, as well shown in this video:

5. Cabbage has been claimed to be beneficial for acid reflux due to its high content of glutamine, an amino acid that has been shown to improve the integrity and function of the gastrointestinal tract, and neutralize stomach acid.

Glutamine is also involved in the synthesis of mucus, a protective barrier that lines the stomach and esophagus, and helps prevent the acid from damaging the tissues.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that glutamine supplementation helped to reduce the severity of acid reflux symptoms in patients with GERD.

Is Cabbage a Trigger for GERD?

While cabbage may have potential benefits for acid reflux sufferers, it is also possible that it could trigger acid reflux symptoms in some individuals. Some types of cabbage are high in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPS) and sulfur compounds which can be difficult to digest and may cause gas, bloating, and other digestive issues.

Final Thoughts…

In summary, cabbage may have both potential benefits and drawbacks for acid reflux sufferers. While its anti-inflammatory properties and potential ability to neutralize stomach acid make it a promising remedy, its high FODMAP content and sulfur compounds may trigger symptoms in some individuals.

Therefore, if you have acid reflux and are considering adding cabbage to your diet, it may be helpful to start with small amounts and see how your body reacts. The role of diet in fighting reflux has been well established. Additionally, you may want to consult with your healthcare provider to develop an eating plan that can work for you as part of an acid reflux diet. I certainly include it in my repertoire of anti-reflux foods!

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